While being based in Akrotiri Cyprus one of the lads in our camps bike club heard I was wanting a road bike instead of the off road bikes we all seemed to own. I had just been paid and was offered a XJ 650 and a XS650.

My club mate had the XJ in the armorers shop and I knew the bike it was black and gold and very tidy. The owner was leaving the island and wanted 300 of our finest NAAFI tokens.

Nice I thought cheap enough I might go for it. That night in our club house our President was talking to me and said why didn’t you go look at the XS. Why? I said. You like the look of all the old twins we see out and about and I thought you would of snapped it up.

Next day I went to the sellers pad and saw a XS Special 2 sat there. Paint was tatty as the Cyprus sun took its toll on most things but hey I loved the bike at first site and rode it home after parting with £450 for her.

I rode her around for a few weeks and decided I wanted a colour change. I popped round to another member that worked in the camps paint shop to see what we could liberate from his stores.

I got black, green or desert he said….nope she’s already black as we chatted there was a sonic boom over his hanger and the smell of diesel. Ha! he said the Red Sparrows are here for winter training how about Red Sparrow red.

A day later she was in pieces all over the camp. Frame tank etc in the paint shop, engine in machine shop getting blasted and the Cypriots in the clothing store were making me a new seat and cutting out my clubs logo and tuning forks out with their new decal cutting machine.

Loom was totally remade in my front room as I was putting her back together by two of the sparkies that worked on the Tornados and Jaguars and were club members.

Total bill a club BBQ, and a bottle of whiskey for the Cypriots. We had a picture taken in front of the Hawks that the red Sparrows fly for their displays and that was stuck on the club house wall.

A few years later it was time for me to go home and I was determined to take her home. I didn’t fancy chucking her on a Herc so I went and visited a Turkish Cypriot fisherman in the north of the island that I had done a few cross border deals with and he said he would take me to Tekeli in Turkey at night and drop me on the beach so I could ride home.

Bike was packed up I had a bergan full of rations and throw overs full of kit . I was passed a syphon tube and empty fuel can by one of the RAF lads in the club that had done a similar journey and was told if you cant find a petrol station drain a car and leave money under fuel cap for owner.

Perfect. So plan was made and on one moonless night I landed in Turkey. From there I rode through Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, a quick visit to a brother in Germany then Italy, Switzerland France and on the ferry to home.

She never missed a beat,I owned her for a further 5 years where she was transformed to a black bike with massive wide bars, mustang tank and had chopped rails.

She is the only bike I have missed and when I sell my Harley I think its time for another. Hard tail this time. The pics are old and may not be the best but I wanted to share her with you. Thanks for hearing my tale.

Submitted by Juan Kerr

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